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What is a Chanzy

I don't remember where I got this information from. I learned tonight new information that the chanzy is an instrument that comes from Mongolia, has two strings and is fretless. Not sure about how it looks though.

--Sborsody 22:22, 19 October 2005 (PDT)

Actually, "chanzy" was originated Chinese "shan-zy (弦子)" or more precisely "san-shan(三弦)" means "three strings". It was came to Tyva, conciderably, through Mongolia (shanz: also three strings). Chanzy is turned a fifth-fourth apart (from low string to high), or a fifth-fifth. Cf. "Tuvinskie Traditzionnye Muzykal'nye Instrumenty (1989)", "Tuvinskaya Narodnaya Musika (1964)" "Mongolian Music, Dance, & Oral Narrative (2001)". Sorry my poor English. --Rikitiki

You are right on this. Let me paste here a discussion I've been having at of information eventually to be incorporated into these instrument articles. Would you mind providing your book sources on the References page? It would be an excellent thing to include. --Sborsody 11:12, 31 December 2005 (PST)

I wrote:

I'm trying to come closer to an understanding of the differences. I used to think that the kidney-shaped lute covered on one side with skin was a chanzy and the squarish lute covered on both sides was a doshpuluur, but these days I am not so sure. I've noticed that Tyvans seem to refer to both instruments as a doshpuluur. So what is a chanzy and what is a doshpuluur, or rather, what are the distinguishing features?

Tyva Kyzy (specifically direct from Choduraa Tumat) provides information that a chanzy is an instrument that comes from Mongolia. This information is also in Choduraa's solo album Belek. Their info also says the doshpuluur could be kidney-shaped or rectangular! Somehow I originally thought the word comes via Mongolia from Chinese 'sanxian' intrument, where the instrument is also known by the name of xianzi. I found the name of the Mongolian instrument and a description of it, but can't find much other information.

Chanz or Chanze
Mongolian long-necked spiked lute with an oval wooden frame and snakeskin covering stretched over both faces. The three strings are fixed to a bar,
which is inserted in the body. The instrument is struck or plucked with a plectrum made of horn or with the fingers. As the tones do not echo,
every note is struck several times	

The sanxian and the shamisen, which are related instruments, are played sometimes with plectrums. The number of strings in these instruments seems to be a distinguishing feature (san means three in Chinese and Sino-Japanese). Do Tyvans use a plectrum when playing whatever is called the chanzy?

The sanxian and shamisen are both squarish and covered with a skin on both faces. As you can see from the description of the chanz, it has an oval body.

The doshpuluur body, like the one I have, is more of a rectangle than a square. It has three strings, but a lot of doshpuluurs seem to have this. It also has skin covering both faces, which makes it sound like an instrument related to the sanxian.

Any ideas? Could it just be a difference in the playing style? Or is it that Tyvans use the name doshpuluur for any kind of lute? Or that it is a regional name.


  • 2, 3, or 4 strings
  • Fretless rectangular version with skin covering both sides
  • Fretted kidney-shaped version with skin on one side
  • No plectrum


  • 3 strings
  • Played with plectrum
  • Oval body with skin on both sides


  • 3 strings
  • Played with plectrum
  • Fretless
  • Squarish body with skin on both sides


  • 3 strings
  • Played with plectrum
  • Fretless
  • Squarish body with skin on both sides

Either way, I think the kidney-shaped lute design may come from a different instrument source because despite being called a Chanzy, it seems nothing like the Xianzi or Shamisen.

Alternate Mongolian names: shanz/shudraga/shandze/shandz/shidurgu

Imnotelmo wrote:

yes, Tuvans tend to say Doshpuluur for almost any plucked/picked instrument, certainly they use it to refer both to doshpuluur and chanzy.

the mildly trapazoidal shape seems to be most popular for Doshpuluur but i've seen them in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

i've seen both Doshpuluur and Chanzy plucked with fingers and played with a pick, though the pick does seem to be more commonly used with Chanzy.

where ever the origins really came from the Tuvans now use Doshpuluur and Chanzy in almost identical uses. The Chanzy is just a bit louder with more resonance and sustain. Since both instruments tend to be played in the same fashion the name doshpuluur just gets used for both. If someone says "Oh, we need a doshpuluur to play this part" the meaning is taken as either a doshpuluur or chanzy.

Throatsinger wrote:

I emailed Sean and asked him his opinion, and this was his reply: "As far as the instruments, always got to be careful with nomenclature. Like the styles, there is variation of opinion. I would say this - all chanzys are doshpuluurs but not all doshpuluurs are chanzies. For instance, the 'chanzy' in the orchestra has snakeskin on both sides and metal strings, probably are result of 'hybridization' by the soviets, body generally oval. But the chanzy that I have, and choduraa has, and many have, has the 'kidney shape' (it is based on Tuvan vessel 'kogeerzhik') body with the circular skin area in the middle and only skin on one side. And you can call it doshpuluur. Tuvan chanzy thus probably adaptation of Chinese instrument, which however may have sprouted from original doshpuluur. Doshpuluurs can be round, oval or rectangular/trapezoidal."